How to Make Your "No!" Nice
Are you trapped by your "Yes"? Do you find it hard to tell people "No"? Afraid that you will hurt their feelings?
I think we all have struggled with saying "No" at some time or another. After ending up overcommitted 15 years ago, I set out on a journey to discover why I struggled with saying "No." And I eventually conquered the "No" (well OK, I do still slip up every now and then).
I used to believe that there were only two options:
Option 1: Say "No" quickly and alienate people.
Option 2: Say "Yes" and make people smile.
What I didn't see until it was too late was that my "No" was causing me to say "Yes" to things that I did not want to do. In most cases, I was only saying "Yes" because I wanted to please other people (another issue that I eventually conquered).
Then I had someone introduce me to the "Power of No." And I found this Scripture that sealed the point:
Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong. Matthew 5:37
Yes, you go very wrong!
I noticed that when I did not honor my "No," I felt some very negative emotions even when I went through with my commitment. 25% of the time, I did not go through with my commitment but instead made some excuse to ditch it.
Usually, people can tell when your heart is not in it - you are just going through the motions and hoping that they won't see it. And if you are a "no show" for your commitment, you have just put a nice ding in your reputation.
At the root of all my shenanigans with my fake "Yes" was the thought I would alienate people if I said "No." I really believed that saying "No" would cause people to not like me. I was wrong.
When you say "Yes" when you really mean "No," you dishonor yourself. It is a self-respect and integrity killer. At the end of it all, you end up disgusted with yourself or angry at the other person. How much fun is that?
This is when I discovered the third option:
Option 3: Say "No" with a "Yes."
There are times when a simple "No" is all that you need to say. But when the stakes are high and you want to keep the relationship with the other person solid, you will need to master saying "No" with a "Yes."
This is both an art and a skill. In other words, I can't give you an exact script that will work for every situation.
What I can give you is a three-step strategy to crafting the nice "No:"
Keep it positive. Make sure that your tone of voice is pleasant, almost musical, when saying the "No." Smile. Setting a positive vibe will help the other person accept your message gracefully.
Communicate that you care. Remember that the other person is asking you for help of some kind. This means they believe that #1 they need help and #2 you can help them. Let them know that you do care about their success or need. Don't brush off the main point or sidestep the issue. State how much you care.
Offer encouragement. Your "No" will likely cause the other person to feel disappointed. This is a great reason to encourage them in some way. Maybe you can't do what they asked, but you can do something else. Or point them to other sources. Leave them with a positive message that things will work out.
If you want examples of how to craft a response, check out this Tim Ferris podcast. Start at 7:00 to skip past all of the advertisements. He has some really great examples of how to tell someone "No" and have them like you even more. Wow.
Most of all, I want you to understand that saying "No" when you mean it is the MOST honorable thing that you can do for yourself and the other person. It may be uncomfortable in the moment, but the after effects of honoring your "No" are love, peace, and joy.
And we all could use more of that.
The next time you need to say "No," remember this post and imagine me standing right there cheering for you!